Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 870

MELANESIA:

1) PNG Speaker: Report unaltered

By Online Editor
4:36 pm GMT+12, 23/09/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Speaker of Parliament Theo Zurenuouc says the parliamentary report on the amendments to Section 124 and Section 145 of the Constitution are authentic.

He said it was never altered as claimed by Deputy Opposition leader Sam Basil.

When asked by Basil on Friday, Zurenuouc said the report presented and circulated in parliament was the original one presented by the parliamentary committee on Constitutional law, bills and subordinates and was never altered.

“The content was the findings of the committee. I have ascertained the facts and it was the original report,” he said.

“However there were two statements circulated and the one the deputy opposition leader was referring to was the one that was mistakenly circulated by parliament ushers,” he said.

He said he was satisfied and allowed the chairman to present his report.

He said the allegation by Basil was misconceived and misleading to the media and the public.

He said the statement did not in any way affect the report and it was the discretion of the chairman to present whichever statement he preferred to present.

“I’m saying this for the benefit of the people and the media in particular because you have misled parliament and the people,” Zurenuoc said.

“If you think there was a mistake then you should have raised it on the floor.

“I don’t see any reason when it was not raised on the floor on Thursday when I prolonged debate.

“It is a key lesson to everyone. We need to verse our part to know the standing orders.”

Zurenuouc said he would not refer the leader of government business James Marape and chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional law, bills and subordinates Solan Mirisim as they had not violated any standing orders.

Mirisim said he used his discretion and had not abused any parliamentary standing orders.

Meanwhile, the constitutional changes overwhelmingly approved by parliament will help ensure political stability and good government, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said on Friday.

“Claims by the opposition, and some commentators, that they give the government too much power are false,” O’Neill said.

He said the Government was committed to providing community services and growing the economy in a stable political environment. The changes were not designed to give the government too much “power”.

O’Neill said all the “checks and balances” on the government remained in place.

“The only changes were the Parliament’s sitting programme, which would now be better planned.

“No confidence motions would have to be subject to proper debate and consideration.

“Claims that these changes give the government too much power simply don’t stand up to scrutiny,” he said.

O’Neill said he appreciated the overwhelming support of MPs for the two constitutional changes.

“Members understand why the changes are necessary.

“They are fed up with political games, and instability, as much as the people they represent are,” he said.

“The government will use the political stability we now have to make certain basic community services are delivered to the people across the nation, to promote sound economic development, and especially develop our small business and medium sized enterprise sectors.

“Parliament is meeting more regularly, and functioning more effectively than ever.

“My Government will respect the overwhelming support it has received from the National Parliament, and focus on delivering good government for the people of Papua New Guinea.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

2) PNG commends Fiji progress towards election

By Online Editor
11:21 am GMT+12, 24/09/2013, Fiji

Papua New Guinea has commended the progress made by Fiji towards the elections next year.

And PNG says it would continue to provide support in any way it can.

The assurance was given by PNG’s acting high commissioner to Fiji, Hera Kevau, during PNG’s 38th independence anniversary celebrations in Suva last week.

Kevau said a positive outcome, which emanated from the recent bilateral visit to PNG by Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, was the commitment from both sides on the establishment of a bilateral forum in which officials would be able to engage in fruitful discussions on bilateral issues of mutual interest.

“This will inevitably pave the way for enhanced engagement,” she said.

“We will be able to review some of the existing arrangements as earlier alluded to and take heed of existing and new opportunities for the benefit of our people.”

On the sub-regional front, Kevau said the Melanesian Spearhead Group would remain a strong and growing regional body that would provide a catalyst for regional economic growth.

“We have proven worthy of this through the reduction of tariff rates on our goods and services as we opt for trade liberalisation.

“All in all, we believe that it is in the interest of all MSG members to dwell on bringing greater integration, economically, politically as MSG countries as these will inevitably provide for positive spill over effects for our people in this sub-region and the region as a whole.”

Meanwhile, Fiji’s constitution’s new electoral system negates the non-negotiable principle of one person, one vote, one value, claims the Citizens Constitutional Forum.

“The reason is that political parties and independent candidates must meet a threshold of 5 per cent of votes cast to qualify for a seat,” the forum said in its analysis of the new Constitution.

“In a 50-seat Parliament, each seat should correspond to 2 per cent of votes.

“But if two small parties and an independent candidate each received 4 per cent of the total votes, they would not get any seats.”

The CCF claimed that in such a situation, the votes of more than one in every 10 voters would be wasted.

It said the Constitution’s election system must be read together with the Political Parties Decree 2013.

“Restrictions in that decree make it likely that just a few large parties will be registered while provisions in the Constitution mean all parties are likely to be tightly controlled by their leaders.

“Under the decree, parties must meet strict criteria to register, including a requirement to gather 5000 signatures. Only large parties can meet this burden.

“In terms of control of MPs, they can lose their seats if they resign from their party, vote against their party or abstain, and are expelled from their party.

“Such provisions may have their place in an open list proportional representation system as they ensure MPs represent the party that voters chose.”

The CCF said it may be difficult for an MP to dissent against an unpopular decision made by his or her party.

It also claimed there were dangerous political consequences associated with the extreme limits on the Bill of Rights in Chapter 2.

“For example, if a political party controlled over half the seats in Parliament, it could amend the election law to allow (or demand) that political parties explicitly campaign as ethnic parties.

“Since this law could be passed as an exception to the Bill of Rights under section 6.5c, there is no constitutional check against the return of communal politics.”.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

3) Bougainville’s Momis calls for withdrawal of UN gender violence report

Posted at 01:56 on 24 September, 2013 UTC

The president of Papua New Guinea’s autonomous province of Bougainville John Momis is calling on the United Nations to apologise and withdraw a survey on gender violence he says is flawed.

The UN Gender Violence Survey was released last week and included assertions that some of the highest rates of sexual violence in the Asia/Pacific region occur in the province.

It said a quarter of men who admitted rape had first committed the offence by the age of 14.

The report also said one in five men had committed rape, with researcher James Lang saying violence has become normalised.

But President Momis says the report is wrong.

“Bougainville is a small society as you know. We the leaders, being a matrilineal society, we the leaders would have found out a long. time ago if what they report is true. None of us – including myself. If it is true that one out of every five people interviewed was a rapist then you are saying that one fifth of the population is a rapist – that is totally bloody untrue.”

The president of Papua New Guinea’s autonomous province of Bougainville, President John Momis.

Radio New Zealand International

4) TI in Vanuatu says 50-year contract on airport deal a serious concern

Posted at 05:51 on 24 September, 2013 UTC

Transparency International in Vanuatu says there are several aspects of the government’s plans for airport development that are concerning.

The government has plans for a huge new airport on Efate and upgrades in other provinces, with the same company going on to operate them.

TIV’s president Marie-Noelle Ferrieux-Patterson says the prospect of the company getting a 50-year contract is a major worry.

MARIE-NOELLE FERRIEUX-PATTERSON: Vanuatu has gone through similar types of contracts in the past with electricity, with water, and every time it has been a problem, because you don’t contract any of your countries activities or assets for a period of 50 years without having a serious discussion with all the parties concerned, all the stakeholders. And that was not done. So whether it’s a good or bad project, I think from the beginning the [Indistinct] and nothing has been able to remove it at this stage. Also the talk that the Singapore company that has signed the agreement that no-one has seen has been pretending to be associated with different major groups. And when these major groups were contacted they were not aware of that commitment. So it looks more like maybe a company has got a commitment from the government and that they are not involved themselves in airport construction and would be basically selling that project to someone. Again, we were finding, when I was ombudsman, some kind of bank guarantee system where people sign bank guarantees or sign different commitments, because that agreement was also a guarantee from the government that they could sell that to someone and assign that to someone and it would be money-making for some people.

DON WISEMAN: As it’s understood, there is a promissory note that would effectively underwrite the project.

MARIE-NOELLE FERRIEUX-PATTERSON: That’s what they’ve been saying. Not automatically underwrite the project, but commit to basically pay damages to the company doing it if ever they were interrupted in doing the work of the airport in their 50-year contract then basically the Vanuatu government would have to pay a lot of money to them. We have been going through the same thing with the cable company, the internet cable company at the moment, but that even went further. And we haven’t talked too much about it, but that’s also an area we need to totally investigate at the moment. Because in this case the cable business was sold to the Vanuatu government and the provident fund. Again, these deals are being done and no-one is talking about it. We’re not aware of a visibility study. For the airport, the interesting part, and I think that’s why at the moment everyone is a little bit waiting, is that the Opposition has basically put a judicial review case against the government on the basis of that original agreement, on the basis of the constitutional requirement, asking for the public good on doing the due diligence and all these kinds of aspects of the work that they haven’t done. And the chief justice has looked at it and said that there was case to answer. So information is going to come out. The project, we understand, is frozen at the moment – the guaranteeing part of it – so hopefully everything is going to come out through that case. And then if there is anything that can be stopped, if it is not good for the public it will be done. We need an airport in Vanuatu. There is no doubt that we have been discussing for years what is coming first – the hotel development, the airport, so we are turning around in a circle, what comes first, but that doesn’t stop all the good process of due diligence, the public procurement aspect that should be respected. And if it is not, then you automatically become suspicious because, who was paid to do that so quickly?

Radio New Zealand International

5) Fiji and Vanuatu sign MOU on development cooperation

By Online Editor
5:06 pm GMT+12, 24/09/2013, United States

Fiji’s Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama  has met with the Vanuatu Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil in New York to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on development cooperation.

The MOU essentially articulates the desire of both countries to strengthen their relations through cooperation on a number of key areas.

“Fiji and Vanuatu share development aspirations and challenges, and agreements such as the one we have signed today allow for collective and innovative solutions to be developed, drawing on best practices from each of our countries,” said Prime Minister Bainimarama.

The Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation encompasses a broad range of issues including: bilateral trade and investment; education, youth and human resource development; labour mobility; immigration; commerce, retail and taxation; Fisheries Cooperation; air and sea transportation; health and pharmaceutical; climate change, environment, security and energy; and livestock development.

The MOU is envisaged to also further strengthen collaboration by the two countries within the framework of the MSG Agreement.

Prime Minister Bainimarama also expressed the Fijian Government’s commitment to work collaboratively with Vanuatu on issues of mutual interest to both countries.

SOURCE: MINFO/PACNEWS

6) Pay rise, new contracts for Fiji’s top govt officials

By Online Editor
2:02 pm GMT+12, 24/09/2013, Fiji

Fiji’s Public Service Commission has confirmed an increase in the salary of all permanent secretaries in government.

Commission permanent secretary Parmesh Chand confirmed this following findings of an independent review of the salaries of permanent secretaries by international consultants Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC).

Findings,concluded that salaries were not only inadequate but had failed to attract and keep the best candidates.

“Along with the increased salaries, there are stringent new conditions that will be imposed on current and future permanent secretaries,” Chand said in the statement.

“Permanent secretaries will now have to meet strict new performance standards, as well as more accountability and transparency as required by the new Constitution or be replaced.”

The PSC did not confirm nor deny claims by the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) which released PWC’s salary assessment report for 24 permanent secretaries and three disciplined services heads.

The FTUC claimed that the heads of the three disciplined forces received salary increases from $160,000 to $221,894(US$86,240 – US$119,600).; five permanent secretaries — for the PM’s Office, Finance, Education, Health, and Works — received increases from $75,000 to $221,894 (US$40,551 – US$119,600); and salaries increased from $60,000 – to $160,000 (US$32, 441-(US$86,510) for the rest in other ministries.

However, Chand said all permanent secretaries lose all existing entitlements, including housing, entertainment, telecommunications and travel allowances.

He said they would now be paid a flat base salary with no hidden perks.

Chand said all permanent secretaries were also on new temporary contracts that would end no later than October next year, with some due to end earlier.

He said new contacts could be terminated with one month’s notice.

After the parliamentary elections, Chand said all permanent secretary positions would be advertised and anyone, including the current permanent secretaries, could apply through a transparent and merit-based process.

“Government needs to be able to compete with the level of remuneration being offered in the private sector to secure the best candidates for public service to serve the Fijian people. This has been an outstanding issue for a number of years.”

He said government expected the new salary structure to raise the overall quality of the civil service and service delivery by attracting some of the country’s finest talent.

He added the next phase of the reforms would be an assessment of the terms and conditions of the contracts and salaries for civil servants below the permanent secretary level.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

7) Fiji foreign minister addresses G7 on the PIDF

By Online Editor
1:56 pm GMT+12, 24/09/2013, United States

Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola this week addressed the G7 High Level Ministerial Breakfast Meeting on “Putting Peace at the Heart of Sustainable Development”, held at the United Nations in New York.

The event was organised by the Governments of Timor Leste, Denmark, and South Sudan under the banner of the g7.

In his remarks, Minister Kubuabola briefed the meeting on the establishment of the Pacific Island Development Forum (PIDF): “PIDF was borne out of a desire by the People of the Pacific to create for themselves a space where they can meet with all their representatives to discuss the future they want.”

“Following the Rio+20 meeting, the leaders of the Pacific met in Nadi Fiji in August 2012 at the Engaging With The Pacific meeting and decided to convene a new multi-stakeholder platform for action on the sustainable development and Green Economy. This new platform was called the Pacific Island Development Forum (PIDF).”

“The leaders of the Pacific agreed that all expertise and resources were to be made available to address the complex but inter-related development challenges facing the Pacific region. Furthermore, the leaders called for a united front in addressing sustainable development in the Pacific region.”

“Mr Chairman, the PIDF is open to all the 23 islands of the Pacific whether dependent territories or independent states. Its membership is open to all sectors: public sector, private sector, and civil society groups in the Pacific.”

“Its focus is solely on integrating green economic policies into Development strategies of the Pacific Small Island Developing States and territories. Our Leaders agreed that whilst  economic growth was needed, this growth had to be socially inclusive, environmentally friendly and not endanger the ability of our future generations to pursue their own development aspirations.”

Looking forward to the High Level Political Forum that will be launched by the United Nations during the current session of the UN General Assembly Minister Kubuabola stated: “…the PIDF is the Pacific’s only participatory and inclusive, multi-stakeholder platform for action on the green economy and sustainable development.”

“More importantly the PIDF is the Pacific’s only South-South development cooperation organisation and as such is well positioned to be the regional link for the High Level Political Forum set to be launched during this Session of the UN General Assembly.”

At the inaugural PIDF meeting in Nadi last August over 300 participants from 44 nations attended of which 14 were from the Pacific. The theme for our meeting was, “Leadership, Innovation and Partnership for Green/Blue Pacific Economies”.

“The meeting agreed to focus on ten critical issues in the next few years to bring in green economic policies in the Pacific. These include Inclusive Leadership, A Whole of Society approach to Heath, prioritizing the valuation of our Pacific Common and Collective, long term financing that support our communities on the management of our natural resources. The meeting also agreed to established a permanent Secretariat in Suva. Work on establishing the Secretariat is now well underway in Suva with its formal opening expected early next year.”

“The People of the Pacific through the PIDF are giving voices to those whose voices have not been heard before. Through this Forum we bring accountability and transparency to our decision making processes. With our inclusive and participatory format we ensure that the hopes and aspirations of all our People are honored and respected. This is the only way we can ensure a future for our People that is not only sustainable but also peaceful.”.
SOURCE: MINFO/PACNEWS

POLYNESIA:

8) PM Warns Samoans To Behave While Working Overseas
‘Shameful behavior’ will mean blacklisting from work scheme

By Lanuola Tupufia

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Sept. 23, 2013) – Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has issued a stern warning to Samoans leaving the country as part of the seasonal worker schemes to New Zealand and Australia.

Any “shameful behaviour” from them would mean their village would be blacklisted from the schemes for two to four years.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa was referring to the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme that allows Pacific Islanders to work during harvest time in New Zealand and Australia.

“There is an important area that I discussed with the workers especially to those that left before and had shown unacceptable behaviour,” said Tuilaepa.

“Some showed disorderly behaviour, they damaged company assets namely vehicles, got drunk, were stealing, raped and even ran off in New Zealand.”

The Prime Minister did not reveal the names or the villages of the culprits.

However, he said most of the offenders came from rural villages.

To prevent problems in the future, the Government through the Prime Minister’s office has strengthened the screening process.

“The new process means that if you’re Simi from a village in Savai’i, if anything happens [to you], any person from that village will be banned from going for two years. It can go up to four years.”

When that happens, the village would be punished for the misbehaviour of an individual. Tuilaepa also made it clear the Government will only take people from villages that have not had someone show bad behaviour during the scheme.

He indicated that there were villages already on the blacklist but did not name them. Earlier last week, Tuilaepa spoke with seasonal workers that will be leaving for work in Australia. The first group of mango pickers will leave in October with another group joining them in November.

It is not the first time that government has promised to set up a unit to deal with seasonal workers.

Back in February 2011, Radio New Zealand International reported a “new unit” being set up in the Ministry of the Prime Minister.

The report, from more than two years ago, stated that the unit would be headed by the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of the Prime Minister under the supervision of the same ministry’s chief executive officer.

There would also be a Liaison/Marketing Officer that will be based in New Zealand, a Principal Officer and two Junior Officers to operate in Samoa.

The scheme dates back to 2007 and by 2012 had seen some 39,000 seasonal appointments from the Pacific arrive in New Zealand – many of them return workers, according to the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The report does not give figures per country.

In the 2012 report, 55 percent of employers rated Pacific Island workers as either “excellent – all hit the ground running,” or “good – most need very little training” at 43 percent.

However, “The exception is ‘alcohol-induced socially disruptive behaviour’, which was observed to a greater extent among Pacific RSE workers (27 percent) than other employee groups (13 percent),” reads the report.

The “proportion of RSEs who observe this problem among Pacific workers has declined significantly since 2008,” from 45 percent down to 27 percent.

Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/

9) Mormon Elder To Discuss Church Language Ban In Samoa
James J. Hamula to hold press conference tomorrow

By Alan Ah Mu

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, Sept. 23, 2013) – The highest ranked Mormon in the Pacific has been drawn to Samoa to discuss the row over language that has broken out between Samoan church members and their leaders in Brisbane, Australia.

Elder James J. Hamula, President of the Pacific Area of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – which includes Australia and New Zealand – has called a media conference tomorrow afternoon.

A portion of Samoan church members say their leaders in Brisbane have banned the use of Samoan in worship.

A delegation visited recently and discussed their complaint with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.

A statement issued last Thursday said Government has taken an interest in the issues the church and its Samoan members in Brisbane have argued over in a court case.

Important issues of religious practice and cultural rights have been raised it says.

The Attorney General is to advise Government on the matter – and met with the General Counsel of the Church on 11 September 2013.

It was revealed in a court decision in Brisbane that Samoan may no longer be used as a language of worship except by those weak in English in certain circumstances with English translation provided.

It follows a reorganization which saw Samoan-speaking wards merged with other wards for the sake of more efficiency in the running of stakes.

Wards form stakes in the organisation of the church.

Talamua: http://talamua.com/index.php

MICRONESIA:

10) CNMI Elections next year will be costly

By Online Editor
11:15 am GMT+12, 24/09/2013, Northern Mariana Islands

The Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Election Commission is expecting to incur higher costs in next year’s general elections.

Election Commission Chairwoman Frances M. Sablan and Executive Director Robert A. Guerrero said House Legislative Initiative 18-1 which will amend Article 12 of the CNMI Constitution requires a separate ballot for voters who are of Northern Marianas descent (NMD).

According to Sablan, 5,000 NMDs have already registered and NMDs only are allowed to vote on Article 12 issues.

Guerrero said the government spent more than US$160,000 on the general and runoff elections in 2009.

In January last year, Marianas High School vice principal John Davis asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to declare that Article 18 Section 5(c) of the CNMI Constitution violated the 14th and 15th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and was invalid, null, and void because it denied him and other U.S. citizens who were not NMDs the right to vote on Article 12 issues.

In July 2012, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona dismissed Davis’s lawsuit without prejudice, saying that Davis’s injury was not actual because it would not occur until he was denied the right to vote or his ballot was disallowed.

But Davis can still re-file a new suit.

SOURCE: MARIANAS VARIETY/PACNEWS

AUSTRALIA:

11) Solomons Govt undertakes to repay fraud money: AusAID

By Online Editor
5:04 pm GMT+12, 24/09/2013, Solomon Islands

Australia’s aid agency AusAID says should fraud be established in its Solomon Islands programme the government of that country has undertaken to repay the amount involved.

The statement follows confirmation from the Solomons finance ministry of the suspension of eight public servants while an investigation is carried out into financial irregularities related to a programme for the building of hospitals and clinics.

The permanent secretary Shadrach Fanega says so far auditing has uncovered almost US$2 million ’ worth of fraud, of which almost $1.4million comes from Australia.

In a statement, AusAID says the matter is under investigation by the Solomon Islands Police and it is not appropriate to comment further at this time.

AusAID says it has a policy of zero tolerance to fraud in the aid program and all allegations or suspicions of fraud are taken very seriously.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

12) PNG escapes AusAID cuts

By Online Editor
1:59 pm GMT+12, 24/09/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea will escape the effects of intended cuts to AusAID by the Australian government led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

This was revealed in talks between Treasury Minister Don Polye and Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey when they met during the APEC meeting in Bali, Indonesia last week.

Polye said in Port Moresby Monday that Australia’s rearranging of its aid policy would not affect PNG’s aid grant from Australia.

He said the slight changes in the policy approach would not affect the degree of Australian aid to PNG. PNG receives A$500 million (K1,184 million) annually through the programme.

Polye said it would be the same for additional financing of A$1 billion for the asylum deal.

He said there would be no changes next year to the financial arrangements and structure agreed to by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Polye said he would further discuss with Hockey the possibility of the AusAID programme investing in larger impact projects rather than spreading funds thinly on many small projects.

O’Neill also welcomed the review of the AusAID programme.

“AusAID has become a huge bureaucracy and we have made it known for some time that aspects of their operations in PNG have been disappointing,” he said.

“This move by the Abbott government will address this, and we welcome the announcement. We are confident a substantial part of aid to PNG will be maintained.”

Polye has discussed infrastructure financing through the private-public partnership model with Hockey.

“We agreed to discuss the issue further on how to integrate and use private funds in government-focused areas.”

In Australia, AusAID is bracing itself for sweeping staff cuts after Abbott ordered it be absorbed into the foreign affairs department.

According to a SBS report, AusAID director general Peter Baxter had already resigned after Abbott flagged the merger as part of a bid to cut “duplication and waste” across the public service.

Abbott said AusAID, which administered Australia’s A$5 billion official aid programme, would be integrated back into the department of foreign affairs and trade.

The move will enable the aid and diplomatic arms of Australia’s international policy agenda “to be more closely aligned”.

One senior AusAID official said the agency’s roughly 1,300 Canberra-based staff would be bracing for wholesale change.

“I would say a lot of people are going to be out of work.”

The move comes after the coalition declared it would stop the planned growth of the aid programme, effectively stripping it of A$4.5 billion over the forward budget estimates.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

WORLD:

13) Singapore to crack down on the hiring of foreign professional workers

Posted 24 September 2013, 10:43 AEST

Singapore has announced tighter rules on the hiring of foreign professional workers, saying companies will have to show proof they first tried to recruit locals.

Singapore has announced tighter rules on the hiring of foreign professional workers, saying companies will have to show proof they first tried to recruit locals.

The change, taking effect in August 2014, follows protests and online complaints about the large number of foreigners in the affluent city-state.

The Ministry of Manpower said companies that discriminate against citizens “will be subject to additional scrutiny” when they apply for employment passes for foreign professionals.

“Even as we remain open to foreign manpower to complement our local workforce, all firms must make an effort to consider Singaporeans fairly,” Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan Jin said.

“What we are doing is to put in place measures to nudge employers to give Singaporeans, especially our professionals, managers and executives, a fair chance at both job and development opportunities.”

About 37 per cent of Singapore’s total workforce of 3.36 million in 2012 were non-resident.

The ministry said companies must first advertise for Singaporeans to fill job vacancies in a national jobs bank administered by the government’s workforce development agency.

Foreigners can be hired if no locals are qualified.

Firms which have a “disproportionately low concentration” of Singaporean employees at professional level, and companies where foreign managers are accused of favouring their own compatriots in hiring, will also be put under tighter scrutiny, the ministry said.

Firms with 25 or fewer staff, or those recruiting for jobs paying more than $US9,580 a month, will be exempted from the advertising rule.

Authorities have been phasing in measures to tighten the hiring of overseas worker after facing criticism from Singaporeans, who accuse foreigners of competing with them for jobs, housing, schools and space on public transport.

Singaporeans have also complained the influx is eroding their national identity.

The discontent spilled into general elections in 2011 when the ruling party received its lowest-ever vote count after more than 50 years in power.

Two rallies against the government’s immigration policy were held earlier this year, attracting crowds of more than 3,000, making them the country’s biggest protests in decades.

AFP

HEALTH:

14) Women cancers high in PNG

By Online Editor
11:23 am GMT+12, 24/09/2013, Papua New Guinea

Over 3500 Papua New Guinean women will be diagnosed with gynaecological and breast cancer this year and about 85 per cent of them will die.

The grim statistics were revealed by Dr Mathias Sapuri, the head of obstetrics and gynaecology at the Pacific International Hospital and the UN in-country physician, in the lead-up to this weekend when PNG will join over 80 other countries to raise awareness and support treatment and research on reproductive cancers.

The globeathon is an unprecedented call-to-action, uniting communities around the world.

According to Dr Sapuri, gains have been made in treating breast cancer and other diseases but women around the world continue to die from cervical, ovarian and other reproductive cancers.

“We want women to be aware of prevention, screening, vaccination, to learn the symptoms for early detection and successful treatment, and raise research funding to develop better tools to defeat these cancers,” he said.

Gynecological cancers (cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar) account for almost 20 percent of the 5.1 million estimated new cancer cases and 2.9 million cancer deaths worldwide.

More than 230,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, many in the late stages of their disease, and more than half will die. Cervical cancer is alarmingly on the rise in South and East Asia, Africa, South America and the Pacific, with incidence and death rates at their highest levels in 30 years, making the disease a major global priority. Unfortunately the vulnerability of Papua New Guinean women to these deadly forms of cancer as well as other diseases is likely to increase with revelations recently of a drop in the number of rural health clinics.

Preliminary results from a 2012 Promoting Effective Public Expenditure Survey of 147 health clinics in eight provinces by the National Research Institute (NRI) and the Australian National University (ANU) point to major problems in the drugs supply network and the lack of funding to keep health facilities running.

The NRI and the ANU highlighted in a statement that despite a population growth of 25-30 percent, the number of patients attending a clinic on a typical day fell, and there was a decline in the availability of some key drugs and medical supplies.

While many staff working in the rural health sector are dedicated (three-quarters contribute from their own salary to running costs), there has been a slight fall in the number of staff working at clinics according to the survey.

Meanwhile, lifestyle disease are now a threat to PNG with almost 11 per cent of the population to be treated with cancer.

This is a calculating and alarming figure mentioned by head of obstetrics and gynecology at Pacific International Hospital, Dr Mathias Sapuri.

Dr Sapuri said more than 3,500 women are at risk of being diagnosed with a gynecological and breast cancer this year, and almost 85 per cent will die if undetected at an early stage.

This figure is only calculated for the women folk against the current population of PNG and it is now a major health burden for the country.

While women are now the major concern for having more than 3,500 at risk for being diagnosed with gynecological and breast cancer, this year alone, PNG government must do something to help the womenfolk as too the men in fighting such diseases.

This month’s globeathon event to end Women’s cancer will be an eye opener for the PNG government to really see how the people of PNG, particularly women, are affected.

Dr Sapuri said early treatment and check were a way forward however, equipment to fully examine some of these cases were rare in PNG and the government needs to look into this matter to save lives.

Dr Sapuri said the the Globeathon will be held on September 29 and everyone has been invited to attend the four hour walk to end women’s cancer and to change the life style we have that has resulted in such cancer cases.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

15) New Private Pharmaceutical Facility Opens In PNG Capital
PM O’Neill launches Borneo Pacific’s $9.4 million complex

By Walter Pipite

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 23, 2013) – Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals (BPP) Limited yesterday opened a new multi million kina building complex in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, which was officiated by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

In a low key but special ceremony witnessed by Chinese Ambassador Qiu Bohua, other dignitaries, staff and invited guests, BPP chairman Martin Poh proudly announced that the company, Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals (BPP) Limited, is 100 percent nationally-owned and from its inception in 1996 has grown to be the major supplier of pharmaceuticals, medical consumable products and medical equipment in the country and to other Pacific Island nations.

Mr. Poh stated that over the past 17 years BPP Limited has gained the experience, knowledge and clearly understands the services needed in the health sector especially with the supply and distribution of pharmaceuticals and medical products and as such the company had invested over K25 million [US$9.4 million] in the construction of the Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals (BPP) Limited’s building complex which houses two large warehouses, an office complex and staff accommodation.

“BPP, which employs more than 300 Papua New Guineans, has diversified their business interest which now includes construction, hardware, engineering supplies, travel agents and electrical confectionary,” he said.

He said that BPP group of companies fully supports the Papua New Guinean government’s initiative to work in partnership with the private sector in delivering much needed services to the people of PNG.

Mr. O’Neill who was at hand to officially open the building complex, said he was privileged to share in the celebrations of the success that the family has had with the company since its inception in 1996.

He said the years 1996 to 1997 was at the back of the Asian financial crisis and those weren’t the easiest of times to invest in Papua New Guinea and thanked the company and the family for the courage they had taken to invest in Papua New Guinea at the back of such an economic downturn experienced in those days.

“This goes to show that hard work and perseverance can really bring a lot of success to anyone who invests their money and time in making a success of their businesses and this is an example of a family and a company who are truly one of the success stories of the country,” he said.

He assured everyone that over the next few years the Government’s focus will be on the health sector.

He said the Government is one of the biggest consumers of health products in the country and with that the focus that the Government is having is in making sure that they improve the quality of health care that is provided to the people.

Mr. O’Neill credited the dedication to everyone who worked together for the success of the company and wished more success for the company in the future.

PNG Post-Courier: http://www.postcourier.com.pg/

BUSINESS:

16) PNG Currency exchange agreement with Indonesia

By Online Editor
4:55 pm GMT+12, 24/09/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea and Indonesia plan to establish an understanding of direct currency exchange to boost advanced trading across the border, according to Treasurer Don Polye.

Polye said he had discussed the issue with his Indonesian counterpart during the APEC meeting in Bali, Indonesia, last week.

They have agreed to continue the discussion.

He said a better programme would be created by the Treasury departments and central banks of the countries.

PNG will be allowed to directly exchange its currency into Indonesian rupia for trade opportunities across the border.

“I talked with the Indonesian Treasury Minister on the trade along the PNG-Indonesian border,” he said.

“Some amounts of money are lost when Papua New Guineans change the kina into Indonesian Rupia.

“The process is changing kina to Australian dollar then to rupia. Through that exchange rate value chain unecessary spendings occur and money is lost.

“I would rather see a direct kina to rupia conversion in exchange rate.

“I am keen to establish a direct arrangement for easier access. We have got to stabilise the exchange rate through a policy on monetary arrangements through the central banks of the two countries. The Indonesian minister has agreed.

“This will open up opportunities where a Papua New Guinean can get more when trading with Indonesia and likewise.”

Polye said he had consulted the Governor of Bank of PNG and his executives at the Treasury Department on the idea.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

17) Hawaiki Cable step closer to trans-Pacific link

By Online Editor
1:51 pm GMT+12, 24/09/2013, New Zealand

New Zealand company, Hawaiki Cable is a step closer to linking New Zealand, Australia and several Pacific nations to the United States.

This comes after the signing of a turn-key supply and installation contract with a US submarine cable vendor.

The multi-million dollar agreement with TE SubCom was a key milestone in Hawaiki’s planned 14,000-kilometre trans-Pacific cable linking Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii to the US west coast, Hawaiki Cable said today.

The owner and developer of the Hawaiki submarine cable system hopes to lay the trans-Pacific cable in 2015 at a cost of US$350 million (NZ$420m).

TE SubCom would design and lay an “industry-leading” coherent fibre-optic cable system on the Australia-New Zealand to USA trunk, Hawaiki said.

A number of Pacific nations located next to the cable route, including American Samoa, would be able to connect to the main trunk, it added.

Last month an Auckland source said the United States Defence Department had an interest in spending about US$100m (NZ$120m) to directly or indirectly acquire a connection between the US, Australia and American Samoa to link its defence bases.

If interest in a fibre link translated into a contract, that could be a big boost for Hawaiki Cable, the New Zealand-based venture the source said.

In July Hawaiki announced it had signed a “memorandum of understanding” with Northland Inc to land the cable in the Whangarei area.

Hawaiki said undersea cable system elements, known as wet plant, would be based on 100 gigabytes per second wavelength technology and were designed for future upgrades as terminal equipment advanced.

The cable system would also include TE SubCom’s Optical Add Drop Multiplexing (OADM) branching unit technology to connect multiple regional branches to the main cable, it said.

Chief executive Remi Galasso said the procurement process for the cable link started in October last year and had progressed according to plan.

“The supply contract with TE SubCom is a major step forward for Hawaiki and adds significant momentum to our project,” he said.

TE SubCom would survey the cable route and use collected data to design and manufacture the fibre-optic cable system in its New Hampshire factories, Hawaiki said.

SubCom operated a fleet of cable ships that would lay the cables across the Pacific Ocean, it added.

TE SubCom brought both superior technology and operational experience, which were key elements when completing such an ambitious venture, Galasso said.

“Not only will SubCom supply a future-proof system, but the company’s experience with local permitting practices will be critical during system deployment,” he said.

Earlier this month the Government announced it would be making a $15m contribution available to companies that were considering building an international telecommunications cable between New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

The existing Southern Cross loop was expected to continue to meet New Zealand’s requirements until at least 2020, the Government said.

Last year alternative cable company Pacific Fibre, backed by big-name entrepreneurs including Sam Morgan, Stephen Tindall and Rod Drury, announced it had failed to raise the required US$400 million (NZ$490 million) to build a 13,000km high-speed fibre-optic cable connecting New Zealand and Australia to California.

The service would have provided a competitive alternative to the existing cable owned by Southern Cross, a consortium of Telecom, SingTel Optus and Verizon.

SOURCE: FAIRFAX NZ/PACNEWS

18) No jobs will be lost in restructure, PM O’Neill says

By Online Editor
1:49 pm GMT+12, 24/09/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Prime Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has assured staff of the Ok Tedi mine that no jobs will be lost in the restructure of its ownership.

“The management will not change,” he said on the FM100 talkback programme  Monday.

“No job will be lost in the restructure.”

He said only the ownership was changing, with the PNG Sustainable Development Program’s (PNGSDP) focus now directed at the people’s development and social needs that had been neglected for too long.

He gave his assurance that the Ok Tedi Development Foundation and its good work would continue.

“Our focus will now be the people of Western, especially those in the affected areas,” he said.

“We must all now work with the provincial and local level governments.

“They know the priorities of their people.

“There will no longer be any competing interests.

“We cannot have two or three organisations running parallel projects.

“We must now align all the resources with the priorities of the people.

“PNGSDP or Ok Tedi is not about Sir Mekere or Peter O’Neill. This is about the people and what is rightfully theirs.

“We must make it work for them, not protect our ivory towers,” he said.

All the callers who raised questions with O’Neill on the radio spoke in support of the Government’s move.
A caller from Kiunga said the hospital there was in a very bad state.

He claimed PNGSDP had done nothing about it.

Another caller, John Vaki, said the immunity granted to BHP was wrong and BHP deserved to be sued for the destruction caused to the environment and the livelihood of the people there.

O’Neill said no new mining venture would be approved unless stringent environmental conditions were met.

He said this included the Nautilus project, which was proposing a deep sea mine using advanced technology.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

19) PNG PM Minister must ensure justice for SABL landowners

By Online Editor
1:48 pm GMT+12, 24/09/2013, Papua New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister must ensure justice for the thousands of landowners defrauded in the Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABLs) land grab by immediately cancelling the leases and stopping any further logging.

This is the call being made by ACT NOW! and the Bismarck Ramu Group.

“The Prime Minister has tabled the SABL Commission of Inquiry report in Parliament. He has told the Nation 38 out of 42 leases were fraudulently obtained. The leases were used to con the landowners and foreign companies have chopped down their forests and stolen the profits”, says Rosa Koian Campaign Manager with BRG.

“But there has been no action taken to cancel the leases or stop the logging. This means we are allowing the fraud to continue and denying any justice for thousands of landowners.

“The Prime Minister likes to claim his government is tough on corruption and will not tolerate fraud”, says Effrey Dademo, Program Manager for ACT NOW!

“Yet we are still waiting to hear these leases, which the Prime Minister himself has denounced as fraudulent and a con, have been cancelled and the logging stopped”.

In total, more than 5 million hectares of land have been swallowed up by foreign companies in SABL leases. The leases give the companies 99 year rights to occupy and use the land.
SOURCE: ACT NOW/PACNEWS

20) Fiji trade deficit rises

By Online Editor
11:11 am GMT+12, 24/09/2013, Fiji

Fiji’s current account (excluding aircraft imports) is expected to reach a deficit of 6.4 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), because of a higher trade deficit this year.

This was revealed by the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Industry and Trade Shaheen Ali at the Investment Fiji Export Awareness seminar in Suva Monday.

“In 2014, the current account deficit is expected to improve to 4.9 per cent of GDP, mainly due to the trade deficit improving by 6.1 per cent,” Ali said.

In his presentation, a total trade deficit of $2.85billion was recorded which include an aircraft payment of $918.6million (US$497 million) with the current account balance of $1.41b

He said a total of $1.81b would be forecasted trade deficit next year and $1.84b in 2015.

He said the positive and stable growth had led to consumer confidence resulting in increased demand for imports and an increased trade deficit, contributed to Fiji’s current account deficit.

“Efforts are being made to reduce the trade deficit through numerous reforms and measures.

“However to gain success, these efforts need support from all sectors. This is only possible through a structured and inclusive process.”

For last year alone, he said Fiji recorded about $2b accounted for exports with over $4b worth of imports.

Reserve Bank of Fiji acting manager domestic markets Lavenia Cocker confirmed the total export and import last year.

Cocker said the global market was competitive and domestic costs were rising, exporters needed to work smarter and reduce funding costs.

Fiji Export Council CEO Jone Cavubati said Australia, the US, United Emirates, Japan and New Zealand accounted for 50 per cent of Fiji’s total export.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

21) Exports From Fiji To Other Pacific Islands On The Rise
Australia still accounts for 17% of total trade with Fiji

By Reginald Chandar

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Sept. 23, 2013) – Pacific Island Countries (PICs) account for 22% of Fiji’s total exports or FJ$530 million [US$282.3 million] and more trade and growth is expected in the coming years.

In comparison, our largest trading partner, Australia accounts for 15% of our total exports, amounting to FJ$331 million [US$176.3 million].

Revealing the statistics during an awareness workshop for exporters organised by Investment Fiji in Suva today, Ministry of Trade and Industry permanent secretary Shaheen Ali said Fiji’s trade with the PICs has increased from less than 1% of total trade in the year 2000 to 8% of total trade in 2012.

He said with the progress in the MSG Trade Agreement (MSGTA) under Fiji’s chairmanship and removal of import tariffs by PNG and Vanuatu, opportunities have opened up for Fijian manufactured products and TCF exports.

“We are working on reviving the PICTA trade in goods agreement to enable better market access for Fijian goods in the rest of the Pacific countries.”

“We cannot afford to overlook New Caledonia and other French territories. New Caledonia may have a small population of 264,000 people, however, it has the highest per capita income (US$32,000), larger than Australia, New Zealand or Japan and is comparable to Singapore and the US,” said Ali.

Australia remains Fiji’s largest trading partner, in 2012 Australia accounted for 17% of Fiji’s total trade. However, Fijian exports have been underperforming and our trade balance with Australia has been worsening.

Ali said 2012 total trade with the Asian region (excluding imports from Singapore) accounted for 19.5% of Fiji’s total trade.

But this was relatively small compared to the size of the Asian markets and its growing importance and our exports are concentrated on only a few products, a narrow range of raw materials – fish, woodchip and timber and minerals.

“The Asian region has been the most dynamic and fastest growing region in the last 30 years and will remain so for the next 30 years. Fiji needs to increase its effort in Asia by finding markets for more value-added Fijian made and Fijian grown products, – not just raw material or primary goods.”

“In this regard, we need to be involved in some of the FTAs that are currently being negotiated in the Asian region, in order to deepen our integration with Asia.”

“In a nutshell, we need to become competitive or risk being left outside of the growth hub of the world.”

He said the seminar helped stakeholders and exporters improve their knowledge and understanding of the policies and strategies that are being proposed expand their business and exports.

“Government recognizes that strengthening our trading infrastructure and environment must go hand-in-hand with acquiring supply side capacity (at the domestic level). We are also aware acquiring market access, requires overcoming tariff and non-tariff barriers globally.”

“The Bainimarama government will also continue to assist exporters to achieve long term growth by improving our road network – which links rural areas to main markets, and our seaports and airports – that create links our economy to international markets. The industry in turn should take on the challenge and develop products that are competitive in international markets and complies with international standards and demands,” he added.

The seminar ended today.

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

22)  Pacific Governments Urged To Protect Tuna Fisheries
Tri Marine International calls for sustainability, better management

By Jemima Garrett

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Sept. 23, 2013) – The world’s biggest tuna company has called for government action to manage tuna stocks and promote sustainable fishing in the Pacific.

Industry groups met at the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Tuna conference in the Solomon Islands to look at how to broaden the tuna investment base in the region.

The FFA is a regional organisation developed to help Pacific countries control and develop their tuna fisheries.

Tri Marine International Managing Director Phil Roberts told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat there was a consensus among industry groups for a limit on fishing effort in the Pacific to protect fish stocks.

Tri Marine International is the world’s biggest tuna company, and trades around $1 billion worth of tuna a year through its Singapore office.

Mr. Roberts criticised the FFA’s Vessel Day Monitoring scheme in promoting sustainability, saying the amount of registered fishing vessels had increased from 200 to 290 in the last five years.

The Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) is a system where vessel owners can purchase and trade fishing days at sea in places subject to the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA).

“As a means of limiting (fishing) effort the vessel day scheme has not been efficient,” Mr. Roberts said.

PNA controls the world’s largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery, with its members including the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Mr. Roberts called on the the PNA to take action.

“PNA have authority and sovereign rights over their zones. They are in a extraordinarily powerful position to control this fishery,” he said.

“We’re all hoping they will eventually force a limit.”

Mr. Roberts said Tri Marine is expanding its more environmentally friendly pole and line fishing and fishing that avoids the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADS).

FAD’s are buoys, floats or other man-made objects used to attract fish, and have been criticised by environmentalists for contributing to overfishing.

“Customers are asking for FAD free fish and our role as supplier is to supply what the customer wants,” Mr. Roberts said.

“We’d rather be ahead of the wave than trying to catch up.”

Mr. Roberts said the market for sustainable tuna was growing.

“Consumers everywhere are more and more attuned to the issues around sustainability and the practices used in catching.”

FFA’s 17 Pacific Island members are Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The FFA Tuna forum will be held between 18 to 20 September.

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

LAW&ORDER/problems within the Pacific communities:

23) Gambling entrenched in PNG

By Online Editor
5:00 pm GMT+12, 24/09/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guineans are not taking advantage of lower income tax concessions, free education and free basic health to save for the future.

They however, are putting money to pokies, horse race and gambling.

The mid year economic and fiscal outlook report presented to Parliament last week by Treasury Minister Don Polye reveal the frightening trend that also attracted debate during Grievance Debate in Parliament last Friday.

The MYEFC report stated that fact that the gaming machine tax was stronger than expected over the first half of 2013, raking in K160 million, higher by K14 million or 9.5 per cent higher than projected at 2013 budget.

Polye said the slow economic outlook facing the world economy, PNG economy continues to grow very strongly and confidence remains high with major investments like the LNG project on schedule for completion and delivery of first products.

He said other parts of the economy including the mines continue to grow strongly with the commissioning of Ramu nickel mine in 2012 and upgrades expected at other major mines as development and exploration continue.

He said non-mining sectors continue to grow especially in construction, transportation, manufacturing and wholesale and retail sectors.

Polye said one of the factors that impeded growth included the declining oil and agricultural prices, the negative impacts of cocoa pod borer disease and the poor growing conditions for coffee.

Goroka MP Bire Kimisopa said during Grievance Debate on Friday said that if the economy is doing so well, than that must be reflected by cost of store goods coming down and the cost of doing business must also be down. “When I read the outlook report, page 16 is about gaming tax, my opinion is that if we are giving Papua New Guineans tax concessions in terms of the exemptions, we have gone up in the threshold roughly K10 000 (US$3,960) no income tax and we have generously subsidised health and education right throughout the country”

“And by doing so disposal income should go up in the pockets of average Papua New Guinean right throughout the country.

“What I see on the report is quite frightening. The gaming tax revenue has gone up in the last 6 months, collection has gone up to around K160 million (US$63.3 million), in other words we have a growing industry in gaming, by the end of this financial year, I suspect we would have hit the K400 million (US$158.4 million) mark. Next year I suspect we will hit the K1 billion (US$396. million) mark.

“What’s that telling us is that our people are not taking advantage of all the concessions, exemptions in tax, health and education, Where have the people put in their money? They invest it back to horse race, pokies and gambling. Our people are not putting money in the banks.

“By 2014 although we give concessions lets tie some strings so our people cannot throw their money for nothing,” he said, adding the government must find ways to discourage the trend….

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

24)Chiefs of Vanuatu’s Tanna address domestic violence

Posted at 01:56 on 24 September, 2013 UTC

The powerful Nikoletan Council of Chiefs on Vanuatu’s Tanna Island has invited women leaders to discuss the issue of domestic violence on their island.

The Vanuatu Womens Centre is holding a workshop to help the chiefs to understand the important roles that women play in the household and society.

The rights of children will also be discussed.

The chiefs have acknowledged violence against women does exist in society and expressed the importance for them to work with the centre and police to reduce it.

Radio New Zealand International

REFUGEE/ASYLUM+:

25)Asylum seekers flown to Manus Island, Nauru under new 48 hour removal target

By Online Editor
11:13 am GMT+12, 24/09/2013, Australia

Passengers on an asylum boat which arrived yesterday will be flown to Manus Island and Nauru today as part of the government’s new 48 hour removal target.

Most of the 31 asylum seekers from the vessel will join about half the 475 people who have arrived since the election in being sent offshore.

At his first weekly boats briefing, which has replaced Labor’s policy of releasing details of every boat arrival, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison defended his refusal to release figures on arrivals more regularly.

“We are not running a shipping news,” he said.

In Opposition, Morrison responded to every government announcement with a press release of his own.

Operation Sovereign Borders commander General Angus Campbell said people smugglers often lied and claimed credit for boats which had been announced to give confidence to future customers.

“A periodic approach is a much stronger way to do business,” he said.

Acting Opposition Leader Chris Bowen said Morrison’s refusal to announce when he turned boats back was “naïve.”

“If the new government wishes to be taken seriously they need to be honest with the Australian people, there is no excuse not to tell the Australian media and the Australian people when a boat has arrived and not to tell the Australian people when a boat has been turned around,” he said.

He said in his time as Immigration Minister he was never advised not to release details when a boat arrived.

Families are being flown to Nauru and single adults to Manus Island in PNG, where the government will retain Labor’s policy of resettlement.

Morrison will travel to Manus Island, where capacity will be expanded by 1230, later this week.

He will meet with Nauruan government officials in Canberra tomorrow with capacity on the tiny island to be expanded by 2000.

The Daily Telegraph reported last week removal times would be cut from weeks to days and that offshore processing would be dramatically expanded.

There are currently 798 asylum seekers on Manus Island and 710 on Nauru.

SOURCE: NEWS.COM.AU/PACNEWS

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION AND ENVIROMENT:

26) Flannery says new Climate Council will ‘fiercely guard’ its independence

Updated 24 September 2013, 14:43 AEST

By chief political correspondent Emma Griffiths

Scientist Tim Flannery has officially launched a new climate science organisation, the Climate Council, declaring it will “fiercely guard” its independence. The council has been formed in the wake of the Government’s decision last week to axe the taxpayer-funded Climate Commission. The commission was set up in February 2011 under then prime minister Julia Gillard as an independent body “to provide reliable and authoritative” information on climate change. Professor Flannery says the commissioners will continue their work through the new community-funded Climate Council. “We are raising money Obama-style in small donations online from the public, from ordinary Australians – although in my view they are extraordinary Australians,” he said.

Professor Tim Flannery has . (Credit: ABC)

Video: Axed Climate Commission to live on as Climate Council

Professor Tim Flannery says the Climate Commission has been renamed the Climate Council and (Credit: ABC)

Scientist Tim Flannery has officially launched a new climate science organisation, the Climate Council, declaring it will “fiercely guard” its independence.

The council has been formed in the wake of the Government’s decision last week to axe the taxpayer-funded Climate Commission.

The commission was set up in February 2011 under then prime minister Julia Gillard as an independent body “to provide reliable and authoritative” information on climate change.

Professor Flannery says the commissioners will continue their work through the new community-funded Climate Council.

“We are raising money Obama-style in small donations online from the public, from ordinary Australians – although in my view they are extraordinary Australians,” he said.

The council began accepting donations at midnight and Professor Flannery says so far more than 1,000 people have given the Council more than $35,000.

The commission had a $5.4 million budget over four years and, while Professor Flannery says the new council can be leaner, he added it will still need a substantial budget.

But he says donors will not have any influence on the council’s work.

We’re not taking any money that has any strings attached to it.

Professor Tim Flannery

“Our role is to communicate the facts of climate change to the Australian public,” he said.

“We won’t be running any political campaigns, we won’t be running any agendas.

“There’s one thing that I’m adamant about, and the rest of the commissioners are, that we’re not taking any money that has any strings attached to it.

“We will fiercely guard our independence.”

Council to respond promptly to IPCC report

One of the new council’s first tasks will be to respond to the next report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due to be released early next week.

Climate change scientist Professor Will Steffen, who sat on the Climate Commission and will now join Professor Flannery at the rebranded Climate Council, says it has a crucial role in explaining the IPCC findings to Australians.

“We will issue a short companion report summarising the main findings of the IPCC report and hopefully cutting through some of the technical difficulties that are inherent in the IPCC report,” he said.

“We will try to pick up the big ticket items, the big messages coming out of the report and make it accessible to people around the country.”

Professor Flannery says the “business-as-usual” approach to climate change fills him with “horror”.

“Make no mistake, we’re in the middle of a titanic struggle,” he said.

Video: Greg Hunt wishes Climate Council good luck (Lateline)

“Indeed, I think that the fight for a clean and safe environmental future is reaching its peak.”

Environment Minister Greg Hunt told Lateline that public support for the Climate Council proves the body did not have to be paid for by the Government.

“That’s the great thing about democracy – it’s a free country and it proves our point that the commission didn’t have to be a taxpayer-funded body,” he said.

But former climate commissioner and former BP president Gerry Hueston told The World Today the Coalition’s decision to scrap the Climate Commission was about eradicating Labor’s climate initiatives.

However, Mr Hueston said he does not believe the Coalition has an agenda against Mr Flannery.

“Tim Flannery became Australian of the Year under a Liberal Government. I’m not aware of any conservative agenda to get rid of Tim Flannery,” he said.

“I just think it was part of a wider action which was to move out of the way all of the legacy from the Labor government when it came to anything that had climate change or carbon written in front of it.

“I think we were providing a good value for money service. It’s entirely the Government’s prerogative to decide that they can do it in another way or not do it at all. And that’s the reality of the political process.”radio Australia.

27) Australian scrapped Climate Commission relaunched as community-funded body

By Online Editor
4:58 pm GMT+12, 24/09/2013, Australia

A climate science body abolished by the Federal Government has been relaunched as a community-funded organisation.

The Climate Commission was set up to advise on the science and economics of carbon pricing, but was scrapped by the Government last week.

The group’s former chief commissioner, Tim Flannery, says thanks to enormous public support, it has been relaunched as the Climate Council.

“We need a clear, credible and authoritative and independent voice in this area and there has never really been a more critical time for that voice than now,” he said.

He says the council has raised about $7,000 since donations started at midnight.

“We had our first donation from James in Perth for $15 at midnight. We’ve been raising $1,000 an hour and that’s through the night,” he said.

Under the previous government’s model, the Climate Commission cost about $5.4 million over a four-year period.

But Professor Flannery says the Climate Council should be able to run on a smaller budget.

Professor Flannery says he and his fellow former commissioners will volunteer their time to get the council started.

The Climate Institute’s Mark Wooton says a publicly funded body is still needed so scientific work is not unduly influenced by private donors and it can have the ear of government.

“We need independent voices there that are set outside the processes of outside funders and also the immediacy of government to step forward and hold account perhaps the government at times, but also to be a good communicator of the science,” he said.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt told Lateline that the public support for the Climate Council proves the Government should not have pay for body.

“That’s the great thing about democracy, it’s a free country and it proves our point that the commission didn’t have to be a taxpayer funded body,” he said.

Hunt said the Climate Commission never did original research, instead it simply collated research from other scientific agencies like the Bureau of Meteorology.

But Professor Flannery says that was the whole point of the Climate Commission.

“We have simply one goal and one objective and we always have, which is to take the science, the economics of climate change and what’s happening internationally in terms of action and present it in a clear and understandable way and authoritative way to the Australian public,” he said.

He says the Climate Commission was an apolitical organisation and the Climate Council will stay that way as well.

“Our independence is central to our credibility, so if people do donate, don’t try to influence what we do,” he said.

SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS

28) China to help Fiji fight Climate Change

By Online Editor
5:01 pm GMT+12, 24/09/2013, China

China will provide FJD$60 million over the next three years to help Pacific Island countries deal with Climate Change.

The Deputy Director General for Climate Change, Li Gao has told a Pacific media delegation that China has high carbon emissions because it’s a developing country with a large population base.

Li adds they have introduced laws forcing companies to reduce their carbon emissions and are promoting environment friendly options.

In the midst of an economic boom, China is heavily industrialised… some international studies rank the manufacturing giant as the biggest carbon emitter in the world.

The Deputy Director says on the global stage, China and small island states should lobby together and campaign as a group to demand more from developed nations.

China says it will always support the demands of the small island countries including finance, adaptation to climate change and loss or damage.

Li says they’ve set ambitious targets for China to reduce its carbon emissions and already there are signs of improvement.

SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS

29) ‘Climate refugee’ bid denied

By Online Editor
5:07 pm GMT+12, 24/09/2013, New Zealand

A man from Kiribati, an island nation threatened by rising sea levels, has lost another bid to live in New Zealand with his wife as refugees along with their New Zealand-born children.

Bruce Burson with the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT), said he accepted a “sad reality” that Kiribati and its people were facing environmental degradation and disaster.

However, that did not mean they could claim refugee status in New Zealand.

He was dealing with an application by “AF”, who has already had his bid to stay rejected by Immigration New Zealand.

He will now take the IPT rejection to the High Court.

With all but one of its hundreds of islands little more than 5 metres above sea level, Kiribati sees itself as one of the world’s first victims of sea-level rise linked to global warming.

Its president, Anote Tong, has suggested moving most of its 102,000 people to Fiji or even building oil platform-type accommodation. Kiribati has also bought land in Fiji to grow crops.

In his written decision, Burson quoted expert witness John Corcoran. Corcoran told the tribunal Kiribati was in crisis as a result of population pressure and climate change.

Overcrowding on the capital atoll of Tarawa meant people lived in slum-like conditions amidst social tension.

“Fights, often involving knives, break out and, from time to time, people are injured and killed.”

Sea-level rise was seeping into the freshwater lens beneath the atoll.

“The vegetation has died back in many places, leaving a barren land.”

Freshwater is rationed.

Burson said children were having health problems and some deaths were reported.

“Life generally became progressively more insecure on Tarawa as a result of sea-level-rise,” Burson said.

AF decided to try to leave but there was no land anywhere in Kiribati for the family. They came to New Zealand in 2007 on a work permit and had three children here.

His wife did not want to leave.

“The land was being eaten away because of the effects of sea-level rise,” Burson said.

“Their drinking water was being contaminated with salt. Crops were dying, as were the coconut trees. She was particularly concerned for the safety of her children.”

Burson said he found AF credible and his account was told candidly and openly.

“It is accepted in its entirety.”

Burson said AF’s claim under the Refugee Convention must fail because the effects of environmental degradation on his standard of living were, by his own admission, faced by the population generally.

“The sad reality is that the environmental degradation caused by both slow and sudden-onset natural disasters is one which is faced by the Kiribati population generally.”

The risks to AF and his family “falls well short of the threshold required to establish substantial grounds for believing that they would be in danger of arbitrary deprivation of life”.

Burson noted AF’s wife feared that her children could be drowned in a tidal event or storm surge.

SOURCE: FAIRFAX NZ/PACNEWS

30) UN Chief congratulates Forum Chair, discuss Climate change

By Online Editor
4:42 pm GMT+12, 23/09/2013, United States

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki -Moon has met with Pacific Islands Forum Chair and Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak in New York.

Ban congratulated the Marshall Islands on assuming the Chairmanship of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and on a successful 44th PIF meeting.

They discussed issues of interest to the Pacific region, including the post-2015 development agenda, climate change and the 2014 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Conference.

They also discussed ways to strengthen the partnership between the UN and the PIF.

Meanwhile, the Forum Secretary General, Tuiloma Neroni Slade has met with representatives of Conservation International.

Conservation International is a key supporter of the Oceanscape Initiative for which the Secretary General is the Oceans Commissioner.

The Oceanscape initiative was an inspiration of the President of Kiribati, based on the success of the very impressive Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) supported by Conservation International. President Tong presented his concept to Forum Leaders who moved quickly to embrace the idea.

The Pacific Oceansape initiative is one of the most ambitious marine management regimes ever contemplated.

SOURCE: PIFS/PACNEWS

31) K70m for Climate change affected communities in PNG

By Online Editor
4:41 pm GMT+12, 23/09/2013, Papua New Guinea

Donor funding for climate resilience and adaptation will be accessible by communities affected by climate change, a workshop in Papua New Guinea has told.

Environmental consultant George Henry de Berdt Romilly said PNG would be receiving US$30 million (K70 million) from donors from the United Kingdom, United States and Japan.

Romilly told the PNG Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience (SPCR) workshop that the money would be divided into two parts to help communities affected by climate change.

“The money from the climate investment fund will be divided, with $US10 million (K24.9 million) going into a trust fund so that affected communities can write proposals and access the funds for adaptation methods,” he said.

He said the trust fund that would hold the $US10 million would be managed by the Office of Climate Change and Development (OCCD).

“Communities with devastated areas of climate change can help themselves with funding of equipment and training to help with adaptation methods,” Romilly said.

“Communities can write proposals and cross-check with OCCD to clear funding from as low as K20,000 for purchase of material like tanks and equipment,” he said.

Meanwhile, climate change is a cross cutting issue that affects many sectors in the country, Office of Climate Change and Development senior analyst Joe Pokana says.

While making a presentation on the government’s perspective on critical partnership towards enhancing Papua New Guinea’s capacity and capability at all layers of society , Pokana said the humanitarian organisation would now be part of the technical working group of the office and take part in discussions on issues that would eventually become workable policies.

The Office of Climate Change and Development sponsored the Red Cross Society meeting at the Institute of Public Administration.

It was attended by society volunteers, representatives from its 14 branches around the country and development partners.

“Build networks to bring sustainability in the country,” he said.

Pokana highlighted the Red Cross Society was a stakeholder group non-government organisation.

“These stakeholders will be informed and educated about climate change, test and refine strategies i.e. pilot projects, align key stakeholders and promote and prove efficiency of OCCD.

“As a coordinating entity OCCD builds on the support and participation of a broad range of stakeholders with existing projects in the country that are implemented by the stakeholders with adaptation, REDD and mitigation projects.”.

SOURCE: THE NATIONMAL/PACNEWS

32) Scientists give strongest climate change warning

By Online Editor
4:40 pm GMT+12, 23/09/2013, Sweden

Scientists will this week issue their starkest warning yet about the mounting dangers of global warming.

In a report to be handed to political leaders in Stockholm, they will say that the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation have led to a warming of the globe, including land surfaces, oceans and the atmosphere.

Extreme weather events, including heatwaves and storms, have increased in many regions while ice sheets are dwindling at an alarming rate. Sea levels are rising while the oceans are being acidified – a development that could see the planet’s coral reefs disappearing before the end of the century.

Economist and climate change expert Lord Stern yesterday called on governments to start working to create a global low-carbon economy to curtail global warming. Governments, he states, must decide what “kind of world we want to present to our children”.

The fifth assessment report on the physical science of climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that humanity is on course over the next few decades to raise global temperatures by more than 2C compared with pre-industrial levels.

Such a rise could trigger the release of plumes of the greenhouse gas methane from the thawing Arctic tundra, while the polar ice caps, which reflect solar radiation back into space, could disappear.

Although the report does not say so, Earth would probably then be facing a runaway greenhouse effect.

The warning – the most comprehensive and convincing yet produced by climate scientists – comes at a time when growing numbers of people are doubting the reality of global warming. Last week, the UK Energy Research Centre published a survey showing the proportion of British people who do not think the world’s climate is changing has almost quadrupled since 2005.

But as the IPCC report underlines, scientists are becoming more and more certain that climate change poses a real danger to the planet.

Many believe the disconnection between popular belief and scientific analysis has been engineered by “deniers” explicitly opposed to the lifestyle changes – including restrictions on fossil fuel burning – that might be introduced in the near future. “There are attempts by some politicians and lobbyists to confuse and mislead the public about the scientific evidence that human activities are driving climate change and creating huge risks,” said Stern.

“But the public should be wary of those who claim they know for certain that unmanaged climate change would not be dangerous. For they are not only denying 200 years of strong scientific evidence – the overwhelming view of the world’s scientific academies and over 95 per cent of scientific papers on the subject – but they are often harbouring vested interests or rigid ideologies as well.”

The report will be discussed this week by political leaders meeting in Stockholm. The study – the work of more than 200 scientists – outlines the physical changes that are likely to affect Earth’s climate this century.

Future reports will cover the social impact of these changes and the efforts required to offset the damage caused by global warming. A UN meeting in Paris in 2015 will then debate what actions are needed to mitigate climate change.

Most measures proposed for tackling global warming rely on curtailing the burning of fossil fuels and these will form the focus of the Paris meeting. But other measures have been suggested. In particular, many scientists have backed geo-engineering projects that would involve either spraying particles into the atmosphere to reflect solar radiation back into space or extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in order to bury it.

Both suggestions get short shrift in the new report. One author said: “We have to face up to the prospect of weaning ourselves off our addiction to oil and coal.”.
SOURCE: OBSERVER/PACNEWS

SPORTS:

33a) Fiji National Sports Commission plans for a new sports academy

By Online Editor
5:13 pm GMT+12, 24/09/2013, Fiji

The Fiji National Sports Commission is working on setting up a Sports Academy to develop talented youths in various sports around the country.

Commission executive chairman Peter Mazey said this was the strategy towards winning medals at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Mazey said the commission would identify the talent and enrol them in the academy where they would undergo professional training to become better in the sport they were representing.

“As far as the academy is concerned, it’s for all sports across the board. It’s not just rugby union or netball or the major sports, its going into our minor sports as well,” he said.

“Its finding the talent and nurturing it in whatever sport they are good at.

“Everything we do is aiming for gold and that’s what this academy will be all about.”

Mazey said those who would be chosen to be part of the academy would be assisted in their education as part of the development.

He added they would be working with major sporting institutions in Australia and New Zealand to implement the international standard of training program.

Mazey said Singapore, China and Cuba had also offered assistance in setting up the academy.

“Some of these young people that we will identify may be still in school and university. We will assist them with funding so they can pay their school fees and pay for the coaching.

“We will be setting up specialised sporting labs with equipment that Fiji has never had.”

Mazey said the commission which was set up by the government last year to help with the development of sports in the country was excited with this project.

He said they were inspired by the remittance received from sports people plying their trade offshore.

“There are people from Fiji playing rugby professionally overseas and there are other sports where our people are represented as well.

“We want to grow towards better things looking at what it contributes to Fiji.

“The remittances being sent home to Fiji from our people overseas is about $360million and it is estimated about a $100m come from sports people.”.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

33b) PNG Kumuls RLWC squad expanded

By Online Editor
5:13 pm GMT+12, 24/09/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Kumul selectors are keeping their fingers crossed on injured players who have been named in an expanded Prime Minister’s XIII squad.

The 27-man side prepare for the annual PM’s XIII hit-out against their Australian counterparts in Kokopo this Sunday.

This follows the announcement and endorsement by the chairman of the PNG Rugby Football League (PNGRFL) Don Fox and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill of the team Monday.

The match on Sunday is the first lead-up match for both countries heading to this year’s World Cup slated for Oct 26-Nov 30 in England and Wales.

The Australian team is one of the strongest to face PNG minus those still in the NRL semi-finals this weekend.

In a statement , Fox confirmed that national selectors are basically sweating on the fitness of several key players named who will not play in this match.

The selectors, however, are expecting them to be fit for the first Pool B World Cup match against France on Oct 27.

Some of those named on the injured watch list oversees are David Mead (Gold Coast Titans), Ray Thompson (North Queensland Cowboys) and James Segeyaro (Penrith Panthers), while Mark Mexico and Dion Aiye who didn’t take the field on Sunday could also be in a similar situation.

That includes those that still have club commitments in finals oversees. Rabaul-born Newcastle Knights enforcer and experienced Kumul forward Neville Costigan is in that category. The Knights play Sydney City Roosters in the semi-final on Saturday.

The new face in the oversees component is 192cm tall, 100kg centre/fullback Nene McDonald from the Sydney City Roosters Under 20s team. An Australian schoolboy and Junior Kangaroo, McDonald, 19, who has been on the watch-list for a while has finally been selected.

The surprise picks that have forced the squad extension look to be PNG Red standouts in centre Francis Paniu, halfback Roger Laka, backrower Sebastian Pandia, prop Petero Sanivalu, the experienced Larsen Marape and  live wire fullback Adex Wera.

Kumul coach Adrian Lam said they have had to extend the squad due to a few players really standing out during the recent trial, who forced their way into consideration.

“To be honest, this is a good position to be in,” Lam stated.

While there is no surprise that Lam has kept his most experienced Kumul in Western Highlander Paul Aiton, who currently plays in the English Super League with Wakefield Trinity alongside fellow oversees-based players including obvious pick in Knights’ Costigan, Menzie Yere from Sheffield Eagles and Huddersfield Giants forward Jason Chan.

PNG PM’s XIII squad: Josiah Abavu, Paul Aiton, Dion Aiye, Wellington Albert, Ase Boas, Joe Bruno, Jason Chan, Neville Costigan, Israel Eliab, Richard Kambo, Roger Laka, David Loko, Enoch Maki, Larsen Marape, Nene McDonald, David Mead, Mark Mexico, Jesse-Joe Nandye, Sebastian Pandia, Francis Paniu, James Segeyaro, Petero Sanivalu, Jason Tali, Ray Thompson, Charlie Wabo, Adex Wera, Menzie Yere.

This squad of 27 will be reduced to 22 following the match to travel to the World Cup.

The team leaves for Kokopo today for training and community commitments.

The Laurie Daley-coached Australian PM’s XIII is expected to arrive in the country late in the week.

source: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

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